Legacy of Empire

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On the show this week, Chris Hedges discusses the importance of the scholar Edward Said with Professor Hamid Dabashi. Dabashi is the professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

Every empire, as Edward Said points out, in its official discourse has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it uses force only as a last resort. And, sadder still, Said reminds us, there always is a chorus of willing intellectuals to say calming words about benign or altruistic empires, as if one shouldn’t trust the evidence of one’s eyes watching the destruction and the misery and death brought by the latest mission civil trice. As Said knew, western civilization is a fiction, neither the term Orient nor the concept of the West has any ontological stability. Non-western civilizations were and are invented constructs, negational formulations of the Western world, used not to understand or explore reality but to justify pillage and domination.

Hamid Dabashi new book is On Edward Said: Remembrance of Things Past.

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